Future Melimoyu National Park

14,169 acres/5,734 hectares
Tracts acquired 1999–2005
Aysén Region, Chile

This region of coastal Chile located around latitude 44°S is a complex coastal zone of canals and fjords, with many islands and amazing scenery. In most places, the evergreen Valdivian rainforest reaches the sea, and extends toward the interior of valleys covering the hills of lower altitudes. Above them rises the Melimoyu Volcano, its summit and snow-covered flanks looming above the green forest.

 
 
 

The military government in power during the 1980s carried out a colonization program for the Melimoyu area, after having annulled its status as Puyuhuapi National Reserve. After just a decade, only a few of the fifty families that had moved there remained. Through the years the Conservation Land Trust received many queries from potential sellers who had been part of the government’s ill-conceived settlement program, and had tired of trying to earn a living in such a remote place.

Between 1999 and 2005, Doug Tompkins purchased three contiguous tracts along the Canal Refugio, a spectacular interior fjord. Although some of the property had been degraded by logging and a cattle operation, it had great conservation potential. The livestock were removed, and the land began to heal. The conservation area was significantly expanded with acreage that the Pumalín Foundation received from the Chilean government in a land swap; in exchange, Doug Tompkins donated a large block of land around the Melimoyu Volcano.

 
 
 

Fundación Melimoyu, a nongovernmental organization founded by Chilean conservationist Carlos Cuevas (who was also a key player in the birth of Pumalín Park), has been pushing for expanded protections for the greater Melimoyu area. Ideally, a future Melimoyu National Park would be created. If that idea succeeds, the Tompkins Conservation-assembled lands in the area would be donated for inclusion in the new park.